Juan Toja (and his fabulous mullet) re-sign with MLS

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You know the old saw about a talented soccer player who relies on just one foot, right?

About a guy who is overly prone to use his left foot, for instance, we would say, “He only uses his right foot for standing.”

The words have never been more spot-on than with Juan Toja, the mulleted one-year wonder at FC Dallas, who is back for a second spin of the MLS wheel.

Toja was technically an MLS man for a season and a half. But he was truly a “wonder” only in 2007, when the left-sided midfielder quickly established himself as an out-of-nowhere dynamo. Using almost exclusively his left foot, Toja earned a place at that year’s MLS All-Star contest. He even scored there, helping MLS earn a 2-0 win over Scotland’s Celtic at DSG Park outside Denver.

By 2008 the wanderlust had apparently kicked in. Toja was OK, but clearly not the same driven soul. (Even if he did retain the Jim Morrison-inspired mullet.) He wanted to be in Europe; FC Dallas sold the Colombian midfielder to Romanian side Steaua Bucharest in July of 2008.

The Bucharest stay lasted two years; Toja was then at Aris in Greece for two years.

I think it’s safe to assume that wherever he lands in MLS, he will probably remain in place for about … wait for it … two years.

The trend looks pretty clear.

So, where will Toja land? That’s tricky, because he’s subject to Major League Soccer’s allocation process. The order is down below.

Here’s the deal: we are fairly late in the season, so there probably will not be many more players subject to the allocation pecking order. So, grab him, right?

But hold on there, trigger! It’s a gamble. Because Carlos Bocanegra remains out there; it’s probably a long shot, but I’m saying there’s a chance. And he would absolutely be worth it.

Plus, someone else might just tumble in unexpectedly prior to the mid-September roster freeze.

So, teams high in this order must decide: A) If Toja is worth whatever contract number for which he’s been signed by MLS, and; B) Do they feel lucky, as in, will they not miss out on something better by using their spot in the allocation order?

Here’s the allocation order, which will re-set at the end of 2012.

  • 1) New England Revolution
  • 2) Toronto FC
  • 3) Chivas USA
  • 4) San Jose Earthquakes
  • 5) D.C. United
  • 6) Portland Timbers
  • 7) Chicago Fire
  • 8 ) Columbus Crew
  • 9) FC Dallas
  • 10) Vancouver Whitecaps
  • 11) Seattle Sounders
  • 12) Sporting Kansas City
  • 13) Real Salt Lake
  • 14) Houston Dynamo
  • 15) LA Galaxy
  • 16) Montreal Impact
  • 17) Colorado Rapids
  • 18) Philadelphia Union
  • 19) New York Red Bulls

Chelsea – Liverpool: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Chelsea – Liverpool: This is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season and on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30am ET, online via Peacock) at Stamford Bridge we can expect all-out attack between these two stacked heavyweights.

CHELSEA – LIVERPOOL STREAM LIVE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have spent close to $300 million on new players this summer and may spend even more as they look to make the leap from a top four team to title contenders. As for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, the reigning champions had a scare in their opening day win against Leeds but will know they will have plenty of chances to score against Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Chelsea – Liverpool this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Chelsea – Liverpool (INJURY REPORT)

Chelsea will be without USMNT star Christian Pulisic as Lampard revealed he suffered a minor injury setback from his hamstring issue. This game has also come too early for new signings Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Thiago Silva to make their debuts as they work their way towards full fitness. Timo Werner is fit after suffering a small injury on his debut.

Frank Lampard issued the following injury update on Pulisic:  “Chilwell is not ready for the game, neither is Christian Pulisic. We hope they will work well during the week.” And had this to say after their win at Brighton on Monday: “Christian was training with us last week but he had a bit of discomfort a couple of days ago when he was trying to be in contention for today. It would have been a big ask for today and he has had to take a few steps back and we will have to see.”

Liverpool has Thiago Alcantara on the bench and Kostas Tsimikas available following a period of self-isolation after he tested positive for COVID-19. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing once again after he picked up a knee injury, while Xherdan Shaqiri is battling back from yet another injury. 


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on the brewing rivalry, sideline clashes with Jurgen Klopp: “How much do you want to make of it? If you’re pushing to be successful… we had it when I was a player. In the Champions League we drew each other a lot. In modern terms it’s slightly different because Liverpool are on top of the league and we’re trying to improve. Both squads, clubs and coaches are very driven to win. It’s what the Premier League is all about. The nature of the world we live in is there’s a lot of airtime for you to fill with rivalries. They can be scrutinised in every way. I have huge respect for him, what he’s done at Liverpool was incredible. There’s nothing in it for me. The competitive nature of the 90 minutes can boil over but the respect for Klopp I have will never change.”

Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s hat trick on the opening day against Leeds: “Of all the good performances Mo had for us obviously, this was for sure one of the better ones. So he should be proud of that because it’s very special to have these kind of numbers. ‘Long may it continue,’ I like to think in these moments, and this time I say it as well.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Chelsea (+215) are the underdogs but Liverpool’s odds are longer (+115) than many would expect. Chelsea have done well against Liverpool in recent seasons and seem to match up with them well, and the draw (+270) would be the smart bet in this one. Both teams would take that early in the season and move on.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

I’m going for a goalfest here and I think both teams will have plenty of chances and it’s all about who is more clinical. Liverpool will try to shore things up at the back but I think Chelsea know how to get behind them and Werner, if he’s fit, will cause problems. I’m going for 3-3. This will be a classic.


How to watch Chelsea – Liverpool stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Mourinho comments after leaving Dele Alli out amidst PSG links

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Tottenham Hotspur scored five times in Sunday’s win over Southampton, but Jose Mourinho’s comments after leaving Dele Alli out of the team will have elicited plenty of buzz.

So will rumors that Paris Saint-Germain is among the clubs seeking the English attacker’s signature.

[ RECAP: Southampton 2-5 Spurs ]

Saying “I want a balanced squad” and that he has too many forwards to dress right now — yes, even before Gareth Bale suits up — Mourinho explained his thoughts on the forward.

From Football.London:

“I’m not responsible for the market. I’m not able to answer your question on that. I can only say I left eight players behind training. They are a big group and Dele was among this group. The same way a squad is a puzzle and in the same way so is the bench. I cannot have three wingers and a number 10 and then no defender. Dele stayed out but probably Tuesday he will play.”

Journalist Fabrizio Romano reported that Spurs have been trying to offload Dele over the past few days and that Real Madrid did not want to take him on loan as part of the Gareth Bale deal.

The 24-year-old was hooked at halftime of Tottenham’s season-opening loss to Everton and has cooled off considerably since an early rejuvenation under Mourinho last season.

Dele has 62 goals and 55 assists in 223 appearances for Spurs, but just 16 and 14 in his last 77 dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season.

The knock on Dele has been that he’s a poor trainer, something the player laughed off when Mourinho pointed it out with a smirk during a meeting caught by cameras during the club’s “All Or Nothing” series.

Dele has three goals and six assists in 37 England caps and would still fetch a decent transfer fee, though he hasn’t appeared for the Three Lions since 2019.

Is it time to sell? Spurs run the risk that Dele’s value may never quite rebound anywhere near its heights and could dip quite a bit lower if he stays out of favor in North London. And Bale’s salary isn’t going to pay itself.

USMNT forward Gooch crafts long solo goal for Sunderland (video)

Lynden Gooch goal video
Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Former Premier League mainstay Sunderland is still toiling away in League One, but American forward Lynden Gooch enjoyed the competition on Saturday.

The Californian, 24, is a Black Cats lifer having joined the club at age 17 in 2012. He’s stuck with the club despite two relegations after his 11-appearance Premier League run in 2016-17.

[ MORE: Reyna gets first Bundesliga goal ]

Gooch came off the bench with Sunderland up 1-0 and delivering the second goal of the game within four minutes of his entrance.

There was some comical defending on the play, though we’d like to say the American bewitched Oxford United with his 20th senior goal for Sunderland to go with 17 assists in 126 outings.

Sunderland drew Bristol Rovers in its league opener and sit fifth on the table.

Gooch has made four substitute appearances for the USMNT but none since 2018.

Son, Kane team up four times in Spurs’ big win over Southampton

Southampton - Tottenham Hotspur
Photo by Andrew Boyers - Pool/Getty Images
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Southampton – Tottenham: Heung-min Son and Harry Kane beat Southampton by four on Sunday at St. Mary’s.

Okay, okay — Kane’s goal and four assists to Son joined some early goalkeeping heroics from Hugo Lloris to do the thing for Tottenham Hotspur and give Jose Mourinho a 5-2 win over Saints.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Danny Ings opened the scoring and completed it with a 90th-minute penalty to account for both of Southampton’s goals.

Tottenham’s first win of the season had plenty of sluggish moments after a Thursday trip to Bulgaria and Ralph Hasenhuttl had Saints firing early before petering out to lose a second match to start the PL season.

Saints go to Burnley next while Tottenham hosts Newcastle after a Tuesday outing at Leyton Orient in the League Cup and a UEL trip to Macedonia to meet Shkendija on Thursday.


Three things we learned from Southampton – Tottenham

1. Spurs carried by Lloris, clinical forwards: Tottenham had just one shot on target in the first half as offside denied both teams several goals and Hugo Lloris made some fantastic saves to deny Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men a halftime advantage. Kane’s assists to Son were just as good as the South Korean’s technical finishes, Spurs inviting fans to daydream of the star duo being joined in attack by Gareth Bale next month.

2. Kane-DB: Harry Kane channeled Man City star Kevin De Bruyne with his four assists, all of them pretty fantastic. There were two “no-look” huge crosses to go with some terrific hold-up play and flicks in the midfield. Kane had 3, 4, and 2 assists in the three PL seasons since collecting seven assists in his 29-goal 2016-17. He’s on four this season and added goal late.

3. Europa League Thursdays ask a lot: With all due respect to Southampton looking very good after two losses in two competitions, Spurs lagged out of the gates in our first reminder of the season that Europa League travel can suck the life out of legs. Tottenham had to work very hard in Bulgaria on Thursday and it’s difficult not to lay much of that at the feet of the UEL.

Man of the Match

Well it has to be Son, doesn’t it? Even with Kane adding a late goal, the South Korean’s clinical finishing was everything and more to Spurs’ win.


Southampton – Tottenham recap

Spurs had a third-minute goal — a delightful one at that — taken off the board when VAR spotted Heung-min Son offside in the build-up. The goal that would’ve been saw Harry Kane deploy supreme technique to turn and volley into the goal.

Ex-Saints man Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was bladed by teammate Oriol Romeu in the fifth minute, a yellow card welcome back to St. Mary’s.

Hugo Lloris made an outstanding reaction save when a set piece fell for Che Adams near the spot and the Englishman smashed an effort on frame.

Son was offside again when he broke through on goal but saw an odd-angled shot saved by Alex McCarthy.

A third goal came off the board but it was not offside, Lloris sliding to head the ball into the air and onto the arm of Danny Ings before the Englishman finished his chance.

Brilliant dribbling from Moussa Djenepo cued up another Adams chance at the back post and the forward calmly touched to hammer a shot that was blocked by a splayed Ben Davies.

A partially-cleared James Ward-Prowse free kick rolled to Djenepo, who zipped a shot through traffic and off the post. Close.

Kane had another ball in the goal off a Lucas Moura cross but the Brazilian was offside before passing into the box.

Ings got his goal in the 32nd off a long ball from former Spurs man Kyle Walker-Peters, taking advantage of a confused Eric Dier and slashing a shot past Lloris from in-tight.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A Lloris save on Stuart Armstrong just after halftime led to Tottenham’s second goal, Son running onto a Kane pass for the second time.

The biggest factor in the game was the offside flag, as both Saints and Spurs saw numerous chances rightly called off by the assistant referees.

Son completed his hat trick and Kane’s hat trick of assists in the 64th minute, Spurs carving up Saints to exhibit a flattering score line.

That frayed Saints’ last nerve, and another amazing pass from Kane cued up Son for 4-1. Kane would get another when he followed up substitute Erik Lamela’s 82nd-minute shot off the near post.